How much does it cost to wait?

Witchmas - High Resolution

 

I like reading. I like creating. I like learning and figuring out new ways to put things together.  But the thing that makes me money as an author?

Writing books.  Specifically the Z series so far, but I haven’t tried a big launch on Shadowboxer, or Witchmas, or focusing on Sci Fi which tends to trend when I first publish it.  Z though is doing well.

It’s 2017.  Last year as I sat in the living room of my home in Florida, I planned to write one book in each series a month to build up to 13.  I had the time and space and savings to write full time and only write.

I could have done it.  10 books in the Z series would be putting around 3k a month into my pocket.  If the other series performed as well, I’d be at 9K per month.

There is a missed opportunity cost associated with waiting.

when I think about how I should spend my time this year, what I should focus on, it’s a series of course.  I may not have the time now to write one book every ten days, but I can do a book every two weeks, and still reach some goals of series length by May.

That’s 5 months.

The question you should be asking is, what can you do in five months.

I waited too long.  I skipped out on a plan. I got distracted by new stories, new shiny things.  Just last night, I had my notebook in lap just brainstorming and outlined the Fort Smith story of Judge Isaac Parker.  Wrote 8 pages.

Ridiculous, I thought to myself.  I could have put those 1000 words into BZ Blues Highway.

The point is, don’t wait. Don’t delay.  Write, when you can every day, on one series.  Build 8 – 10 books in that series.  Get good covers, get good description and put the world’s largest reading machine to work for you.

I don’t know if blogging helps. I don’t know if promoting other authors helps.  It sometimes seems to do so.  When I tweet about other people’s work, I get a lot of traction on my stuff.

Why?  Is it coincidence?  Are other authors checking me out and buying?

I don’t know.  That’s the hardest part of book sales sometimes.  You can track an ad and put more money into the ones that work.  How do you track the intangible stuff?

You can’t.  You’ll kill yourself trying to track it all, and that’s just a way for the monkey mind to distract you from your one goal.  Your main task is to write the stories.  Write them all as fast as you can, and get them up.

That’s how you find more audience. That’s how you find more traction and become a working writer.

It’s going to take time.  As much time as it takes for you to write the series and get it up.  Three might not do it for you.  Nine might not either.  But keep writing.

If you are good at it, if people like your story and like your style, you will make money.  How much depends on how much you write, how well you write, how well you connect, and how well you are discovered.

Almost all of those are out of your control except the most important of all:  how you write.

I’m not saying you have to be a great writer.  I’m not.  But I am a better writer than I was a year ago, and way better than I was ten years ago.

If you focus on one series and the goal of putting out ten 50k books in that series in a year, you will be forced to get better.  Get faster. Stop editing yourself on the first draft.  Just move the story along.  Have fun.

And keep writing.

 

Have you met Mary?

maryblowerintpic

 

You know there’s a joke here.  There’s something about Mary you should check out.  Mary reached out to me after reading one of my Author Moonshot books and we connected.  Turns out we have an interest in the origin of vampire legends, specifically historical fiction and the Countess Bathory who may or may not have bathed in the blood of servant girls.

She’s also written a lot of non-fiction books, and busy growing her platform, so I wanted to ask some questions and share with you.

Check out what she had to say, then go grab a copy of Medieval Blood on Amazon and check it out

Tell me a little bit about your writing background.

“I started writing in high school and a teacher told me I write essays like Emerson. So, that was a motivator. In college I took a class called the Inner Voice and did some journaling, and started a children’s novella, The Prophecy of Enchantria, which after about 40 years I have put into a paperback and an e-book. My Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006X9C9CE also has the other 16 books I’ve published myself.”

What series are you working on right now?

“I love your 2017 marketing plan book and I’m working through it. I need to change direction and start a series. It’s possibly going to be a romance series as I have a lot of material! (blushing)”

Do you write in more than one genre or series at a time?

“Sometimes. I like non-fiction and sometimes I get an idea and do a quick e-book on that topic. And sometimes I’ll be writing a piece of fiction and get stuck. So then I will switch back and forth. I also write a lot of book reviews and that is a good “wheel greaser.”

How long have you been publishing?

“3 or 4 years.”

What is the weirdest thing a reader has ever said to you or emailed to you?

“I am currently inviting creative people to say weird but clean things to me.”

Do you have a pen name? Can you share it?

“Not really, but if I write that romance series I will come up with one!”

If you could have readers share your link to a thousand people, what is it?

http://maryblowers.com

What does your writing schedule look like?

“I currently have a day job (it does provide me with a lot of material) so I can write on the weekends and evenings. And on vacation days.”

Where did you grow up? How has that impacted your writing?

“I grew up in the upper midwest near Lake Michigan. I write a lot about the lake and nature and Christianity too as this is a conservative area.”

Where can readers find you?

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006X9C9CE

Createspace https://www.createspace.com/5204619 and others

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MaryBlowers

Book Blog http://maryblowers.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/MaryBlowers

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MaryCBlowers/

YouTube video about some of my books https://youtu.be/GI2BMjcxNow

And finally, what three things do you wish you knew when you started out as an author?

“I am still learning so much so I will decline to answer with 3 things. But 1 is that you have to read a lot, and read prize winning books. I ordered copies of several Pulitzer winners in preparation for writing my next book, for inspiration.”

 

More Books by Mary

 

Medieval Blood: Historical Fiction on the Life of Countess Bathory

50 Ways to Alleviate Boredom

Blood Moon (Anthologies of the Heart Book 2)

Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1)

Expectations 

 

SWEET HOME ZOMBIE

battlefield-z-sweet-home-zombie-print-cover

I’ve never written two books at the same time before, but in my effort to keep experimenting and learning about being an author entrepreneur that’s what I did in the month of December. I wrote Sweet Home Zombie, the third book in the Battlefield Z series at the same time I wrote Zombie Blues Highway, which is book four.

It was pretty neat the way I divided up the day. I made sure I put in 3,000 words in one story in the morning and 3,000 words into the other in the afternoon. That meant each book was written in twenty days or so, and it also meant I could keep some consistency in the details without having to go back and read or remembered what happened in the series bible or a prior book.

Sweet Home Z is out in eBook today, and paperback available tomorrow, both on Amazon. I’m doing a special promotion this week where you can download Sweet Home Z for free, grab Battlefield Z for .99 and Children’s Brigade for 2.99 in ebook format.
If you’ve already read one of the first two, send me an email to Chrislowrybooks@gmail.com and I’ll send you a pdf of Z Blues Highway for free as an advanced reader.

Would you do me a favor? If you liked any of the stories, would you go leave a quick 30 word review on Amazon.

Z Blues is going to be out in a week or so.

I have a grand design for this year, but am planning some additional work and travel that may prevent me from getting two other projects completed and out there. Time as always goes by too fast.

I’m having a ton of fun with my 10 ideas a day project. I’ve talked about that before where I get up early each morning to journal new ideas over a couple of cups of coffee. I must admit it’s working gangbusters. I’m also practicing the art of focus. This is much harder.

I’ve fallen victim to shiny thing syndrome in the past, where a new idea would capture my attention and I’d drop what I’m doing to chase it down, get it done or halfway done and get excited about a new project. Since Nov 1 and the success of Battlefield Z in the post apocalyptic Science fiction genre I’ve focused on working on the series to the tune of 90,000 words in six weeks, plus outlines for the next two books. I’ve also worked on getting the paperbacks out on each of the versions, and am working on the audio books versions, which I just learned there are more than just one rights to, so it requires some careful navigation and negotiation.

After Z Blues Highway comes out, I’ll finish BIG EASY Z, and BLUEGRASS Z in January and release them. That would mean in sixteen months, I’ll have published 100 projects on Amazon, including 12 fiction novels, 4 short story collections, 2 dozen Author Moonshot guides and the rest one off titles in books and screenplays.

I’ve talked about this before, but it helps that I’ve written for years and stuffed things in drawers. I have a huge back catalog of items to polish and publish.

But I have found my greatest success with newly written and published work. I think I know why that is happening. First, I found a niche with a story I wanted to tell and it connected with people. Maybe because the specter of what would a parent do in a disaster to find their children haunts anyone with kids.

Maybe they recognize that when it comes to their children, they could easily become a monster, much like the ease with which the dad does dark deeds to find his kids. Plus I’m doing something in these books that I haven’t done before. I’m telling the truth. Who knew being one hundred percent raw and honest could help you in your writing?!

Plus the new work has a couple of decades of experience behind it. It’s not a script I wrote in my twenties, a wide eyed youth off the farm and in the big city of Angels, being converted into a book. It’s the words and scars of having lived a little bit, and not trying to hide it behind a higher education.

I guess if you’ve read this far, I really just want to say thank you. I have shared so much of my soul in the Z series, and instead of calling me a freak, or rejecting me, the opposite has happened. I’m so grateful if you’ve read it. Thank you for sticking by me. I promise we’re going to have an even more incredible 2017.

One Day I might

cello

I think about this sometimes.  Sharing.  What to share. How much.

Sometimes I write in the electronic post it notes on my computer instead of Word or another word processing programming.

I don’t remember how I got started on that habit.

I would click open a note and write a little reminder, I suppose.  A precursor to my 10 ideas a day journal.  A thought would happen, and instead of hunting for one program, I’d just click and type it out.

Then one of the ideas turned into a scene for a story, and that evolved to writing in a giant post it note, which I would then copy and paste over to Word.

Weird, I know.

On some days I would have 20 or 30 notes open at the same time. You can adjust size and dimensions, so something like a daily task list would be small.

Something I had learned in a seminar or training would be a little bigger.  And sense of course would always be over a thousand words.

A lot of them were lists.

Lists of titles for stories.  Lists of characters.

When the windows got too distracting, too many, I would copy and paste them all into a word doc and title it notes from post it with the date.  Or Big Giant To Do List.

I just noticed two of the notes look like books or at least the beginnings of books. 10 k random words strung together.  Some pages with just a sentence, like Gnome goes on a Raid.

I wondered if I published the journal, if anyone would read it and care?

The notes don’t tell a story, but they tell bits of the story, or bits of a story.  And they’re all interconnected by a theme.

How to write more.

How to be a better writer.

How to sell more books, reach more readers.

All of the work built around one goal.

There are goals mixed in the to do too.

Run.

Push ups.

Plank.

Squat.

Written down so I could scratch them off.

Right under Write 2k words in Battlefield Z series.

That’s how you create a focused task list.

Do the most important things first.  If you want to be a writer, write first.

If you want to be a runner, run after you write.

If you want to be a concert Cellist who can scrape out Thunderstruck on the bow, practice.  Do it first every morning.

It reminds me of the man who said make your bed as soon as you get up, and no matter what you will have accomplished one thing that day.

A win.

If you write a little bit each day, the words pile up into a story.  If you get stuck, work on two stories at the same time.  I don’t know what stuck is or what it means.  I have a lot of stories to tell.

One day I might share notes.

Or I might just write more.

 

Find a Way or Make One

cat

There is more than one way to skin a cat.  But why on earth would you want to skin a cat?  Does their fur make a great coat or hat?  Wouldn’t it be more impressive to shirt a cat?  Dogs will mostly sit in loyal placid wonder as they give in to the whims of owners who want to dress them.  For Halloween. For Christmas.  For spring and summer walks.  A cat will often just flip over and freeze when put into a shirt.

The cat won’t have it.

Is that a sign of superiority to our doggy pals?  Or sheer stubbornness on the feline’s part?

The origin of the expression has to do with either finding a way or making one.

I like that expression better, I think.  Less wasting of the time trying to dress our pets.

Find a way to chase your dreams.

If you can’t find a way, make one.

Find time or make time.

I want to make time with a housekeeper so I don’t have to sweep.  Maybe I’ll get a Roomba, a tiny sweeping robot.  Or an Alexa.

I saw on the news that a little girl in Texas ordered a giant doll house and four pounds of cookies from Alexa.  That story was designed to make you afraid.  People won’t use the technology because they are afraid of small accidents like that, an overcharge from a company that has an excellent return policy.

They won’t let an automatic car drive them because they don’t want to give up control.  We had the same debate when seat belts became mandatory on all drivers in the 80’s.  Automakers installed technology to make it second nature.  You didn’t even have to think about putting on the belt because it automatically rolled across the door when you closed it.

One day, Alexa will talk to my fridge.  Together, they will make a grocery list from items I buy often, and send it to Amazon, or to another grocer.  My card will be charged and groceries will be delivered.

Making time for me to do more.

What I do with the saved time is up to me.

My focus is on writing and building a business.  I want to complete a series I’m writing for television, all ten episodes, then work to get it financed and produced.  I’d like to do four in the state of Arkansas. Then go make more.

I’d like more time to run, more time to play.  I don’t get to see as many movies as I like, and there should always be more time to read outside.  I don’t get enough of that.

It’s mostly my fault.

I spend time trying to get the writing done.  Plus work to make some cash until the biz catches up with the lifestyle I want.  And time with the kids. And planning travel, writing seminars.

Just life, you know.

Find a way.  Or make a way.

It’s pretty much what most people do day in and day out.

They find a way to make money with a job they hate.

The make a way to live with the excuses they tell themselves for putting up with a crappy job, crappy relationship, a crappy life.

My soul cries for adventure, my feet were made for long trails and sunsets on a beach.  My fingers were made for a keyboard and my mind was made through rigorous application of training, reading and practicing.

I’ve read stories about anglers who were late for work every day of the week because they hated it, but would get up at four in the morning and hit a fishing hole before sunrise.  They found a way to make excuses for the job, but made a way to chase the thing they loved to do.

What are you chasing?

What are you making?

What are you finding when you do?

 

The chemistry of making a career from writing

chemistry

Memorize this formula. Traffic + Offer = conversions

It’s the only thing you need to know to make money in any business.

Traffic, no matter where it comes from to look at your offer and determine if they want to buy.

Your digital marketing strategy can include multiple offers from multiple traffic sources, and it should.

Ideally, you’re building a list of people who:

Want to read what you write in your blog or book

Who want to buy what you sell

Who want to grow personally and professionally

Who like your product, your brand, your mission

So let’s start with that.

What is your mission?

It should be a simple 30 second elevator pitch that lets you capture someone’s imagination as they see your vision.

My mission is to help 1000 new authors earn $100,000 this year selling fiction on Amazon.

That’s a pretty cool mission, huh?

Why 1000?

I can hear “real” writers gnashing their teeth and complaining about a tsunami of crap washing over the literary landscape.

Well fuck you Jack.

Here’s my take on it.  I’ve been writing since 1978.  Not professionally, since I didn’t get paid for it.  But I drew cartoons and words onto blank blue pieces of paper to tell action stories.

I loved Star Wars and Smokey and the Bandit, Six Million Dollar Man and Fall Guy.  I was a kid, but I knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to write stories that made other people feel like they were having fun.

So I did.

Starting then.  All through high school too.  I didn’t tell anyone at the time, but I wrote novel in high school and submitted it to a teen novelist contest.

That was my first official rejection letter.  It sucked.

I wasn’t much good at being critiqued or failing then.  I don’t blame my mom or my dad, but I was told all the time growing up that I wouldn’t be much.  Expect to fail, keep expectations low, don’t try, don’t strive.

Any attempt to make or work at a better life was met with swift reprisal.  I was asked a lot, “Who do you think you are?”

Trust me, getting that kind of feedback makes a mess of the inner voice in your head.

I stopped trying to get published until I was in college.  But I never stopped writing.  I wrote all the time, all sorts of stories.  I read.

Like Stephen King. Or Terry Brooks.  Or Mark Twain.  I read a book a week or more.  I wrote almost every day.

I sucked.  I know it, but I created habits and practiced.

Then I tried to be a professional writer.  I got a ton of rejections.  It didn’t hurt, didn’t bother me as much.  I was the first guy in my family to go to college.  Ever.

That took balls.  I skipped the Paper mill and went for a degree in English.  I started in broadcast journalism, and a professor told me I wasn’t handsome enough to be a reporter.  I shouldn’t have listened to him.

I think all professors are probably idiots.  I learned later that most of us live in bubbles.  Bubbles of community, bubbles of job and family.

Every now and then I peeked out of the bubble and got a glimpse of a bigger world.  I try not to live in a bubble now.  Warning: Society wants you in a bubble.  We admire everyone who is brave enough to be different, and then do everything we can to normalize them and bring them into the bubble.

I’ve seen this described in a ton of ways, in business, in music, and art and writing.

Be different to stand out. But get a cover that looks like a thousand other covers on Amazon.  It’s the only way readers will buy you. (that’s true.)

Write different.  But be close enough to someone else’s style that readers will recognize and respond to it, so you can sell books.  (true again)

Get in a community of other authors, each telling you how to make it.  There are a thousand ways to make it.

Pick one.

I think you should pick my way.

I’ve been writing and publishing on Amazon since 2015.  I missed the big eBook explosion that started in 2012.

I’m sad about it.  I had enough books, product and fiction that I could have been publishing that whole time even as I climbed a corporate ladder.

I kept writing through it.  I write 5k words a day most days.  I have a hundred stories I want to tell.

But I like training.  I like helping.  I miss helping people learn.

So I created a way to help new authors.

I don’t know if 1000 will take a chance.  Fiction is funny.  You either can write well, or you can learn to write well, but you have to find readers who respond to you.

It’s tough to do with just one book.

It’s tough to do with just two books.

Three is a good start.

Then it’s about marketing.  Getting traffic to come to your landing page on a website, writing copy to get the person to either buy your book or sign up on your list.

That’s the offer.

You use math to get your conversion rate.  8% is a good one.  Higher means you’re doing it right.  Lower than 5% means you need a new offer.

Or new words for the same offer.

It’s part art, part science, kind of like writing fiction.

Traffic + Offer = Conversions.

I’ve seen people play with the numbers to show you how to reach $100k.

That’s all made up projections.

The real test comes when you hit publish on your book.

And then the next one.  Followed by the next one.

I wish I would have started in 2012.  But 2015 was a good time to start too.  2016 was good to me.

2017 is even better.  When are you going to start?

Can I help you get more traffic?  Can I help you find ten or more ways to create income streams from your books?

From each of your books?

Sometimes you just need an outside eye to consult with, someone to identify where in your platform you could make a tweak to take you to the level you want to be.

Impact adjustments that can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.

How much does it cost?  $197

How long does it last?  Until you start realizing sales from the tweaks, meaning I’m with you on the path to make six figures in 2017.

Click here if you’d like to know more.

If not, no worries.  Just memorize the formula:

Traffic + Offer = Conversions.

Then go buy this book for less than a cup of coffee to help an author out.

And write.  Daily.  In a series.

That’s worth the price of a cup of coffee too.

 

Are you asking enough questions?

journalone

I took some advice last Quarter that I’m really proud of following.  James Altucher suggested I sit quietly each morning, drink coffee and write down ten ideas each day.  They could be about business, about books, about improving the community or building a better mousetrap.  He said that by practicing creating ideas I would become an idea machine.

It worked.  I was the most productive, the most creative I’ve been in a long time and my income through Amazon almost doubled.

Funny how that works.  As an author entrepreneur, the more you write, the better you get.  The better you get and the more work you publish, the more money you make.

Plus, as you become a better writer, you find more readers.  Readers love books that give them pleasure.  Readers like to have fun.

So do writers, and if you can create 10 ideas a day, you’re going to have a blast.

Unless you get frustrated like I do.  I have so many ideas, it’s hard to focus on just one at a time.  It’s tough to think some are going to have to go on a backburner, and some may have to get outsourced, and some may never get told at all.

Frustrating and sad.  This is my first call for help.  If you are an author and you want to double your output next year and you like my writing style, let’s partner up.  You write 20k words, I’ll write 20k words and we’ll co-author a series.  Email me for the deets.

Instead of waiting for other authors to realize that indie publishing is a great way to start building your career as an author though, I decided to train to become a faster writer.

Derek Murphy introduced me to Chris Fox in a podcast.  Fox wrote a series of Sci-fi novels, and a couple of non-fiction works, much like I did.  He’s got a bigger audience than me (he’s been hard at it since 2010), so he’s ahead of the curve.  He also made 100k last year, and expects to almost double it this year.  Not bad for an indie.

He’s the 10th or 11th fiction author I’ve found doing those numbers.  I study them all.

What’s their secret?  They write.  A lot.  They publish.  A lot.

Since I have a lot of ideas, outlines and books on the tarmac in various stages of completion, I needed to figure out a way to join the ranks of Uberproducers.  Or Megaproducers.  Which do you like best?

Fox wrote a book called 5,000 WORDS AN HOUR.  I grabbed it and devoured it.

Turns out, writing fast is a lot like getting fit, or training to run a marathon.  You practice.  He called them writing sprints where you track your words.  I started practicing.  Turns out I naturally write around 2k words an hour.  I just have to work up to doubling it, then work 2 – 4 hours each day.

I’m training to write faster.  Which is good because I just discovered and researched audio rights for indie authors.  Did you know there are at least 7 ways to make money from audio on your books, and that audio books are in a growth phase in 2017?

I ask the question because besides Derek Murphy, and Joanna Penn, I read Seth Godin daily.

He suggested we start asking more questions.  Better questions.

That’s a common theme among people who want to pioneer any industry, or who want to rise to the top.

Start with “How can I?” to create your goal, then ask everyone who has done it before, “How did you?” and “What would you do different?”

If you were starting out as an indie author in 2010, you would write a series of books.  By now you would have 8 or more in the series, and be making a decent living as an author, if your writing was good, if you connected with an audience and if you had discover-ability.  (Those facts must always be present in your work, and the more you write, the better you will be.)

Now it’s 2017.  The ebook tsunami washed up and down.  A lot of stuff was published.  Some of it stuck.  Some people failed.  Other’s succeeded.  The questions you need to ask are what did those who succeeded do, that those who failed did not.

Sometimes it’s about writing to market.  Pick a niche.  Write 8 books in the niche.  Then repeat.

Sometimes it’s about better covers, better format, better professionalism.  Good writing trumps all.  Fun writing trumps all.  But try different covers, better covers if you want to increase sales.

Some gurus will tell you ADS are where it’s at.  In 2016, it was FB ads.  In 2017, they’re trying to sell you on how to use Amazon ads.  Practice and experiment to see what works.  Be prepared for what comes next.

Write a 100 Day plan for your author business.  Add at least one marketing idea per day and at the end of Q1 you will have done 100 things to market your books.

Add one marketing promotion for another author to your to do list.  At the end of 100 days you will have done 100 things to promote another author.  If you partner with me to write a series, I’ll do one thing each day for a year to market us.

Ask a lot of questions.  I have a series in development about Gnomes.  Why gnomes?  I was obsessed with them a decade ago.  I found my garden gnome in a box and put him in my office.  I found a notebook with two dozen ideas about gnomes in it.  It made me need to launch a Kickstarter.  It made me need to find an illustrator.  It made me write four query letters to production companies to pitch.

I’m not waiting for someone to give me permission to move forward with them though.  I’m asking questions about tax incentive financing for film production in the state.

It seems like a lot.  It’s just one question a day.  One action a day.

And I write.  Every morning, after my ten ideas are done, I sit at the computer, open a word doc and put in 2k words at least.  Then I practice 2k more, going for speed.  Soon, I’ll reach 3k, then 4, then 5.

Training.  The question is, how can you get better?  At marketing.  At writing.  At connecting.  At entertaining.

Find your questions, then ask them.

When you get your answers, go do.  Go do now.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve done.  Tell me what you’re working on in the comments.

BTW’s, this post is 1100 words.  I wrote it in 15 minutes.  That’s what practice can do for you.